Remarkable success against the odds

Victoria Pistevos’ determination to push beyond physical limitations to achieve an ATAR of 99.6 has been acknowledged with a prestigious State award.

She was one of three awarded the Brother John Taylor Memorial Prize in a ceremony held at NSW Parliament House for achieving outstanding results in the HSC in the face of significant adversity.

Victoria, who has suffered from Hypermobility Disorder her whole life, already had a heavier workload than most students when she tackled the Higher School Certificate last year, and never expected to brave a series of severe illnesses.

Victoria overcame a year of hospital visits and sickness including Pnemonia, Tonsilitis, severe migraines and fighting infections on top of pre-existing medical conditions to earn herself one of the top honours for students in the State.

“I worked very hard throughout high school,” said Victoria, who also earned the title of College Dux at Bethlehem College Ashfield.
“Poor health meant that I would never achieve my best whilst repeating my usual patterns of study and fitness, so I learned how to not only work hard, but smart,” she said.

“This important shift in my work ethic and self-motivation was a direct result of me becoming more aware of myself: my strengths, weaknesses, physical endurance, mental endurance, my health, passions and the ways I learn best.”

Victoria endured constant pain and often sat her assessment tasks and examinations under extreme duress. She learned how to adapt her study techniques and transformed her bedroom walls with study notes, unable to hold a pen for long.

She credits support at school and at home and playing to her strengths, with getting her through the HSC. “Worrying about what you cannot control will not do you any good,” she said.

This year she gained a place at Sydney University studying Medical Science, and will work her way to a place in the postgraduate Medicine program. Her experiences as a patient has given her a passion to improve society’s healthcare and to become a Doctor.

Principal Paula Bounds, who nominated Victoria for the award, described her as, “an incredibly courageous young woman determined not to succumb to many medical conditions that would have easily defeated another.”

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